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Writing Wednesdays: Stories for Sendai

Stories for Sendai is a charity anthology by J.C. Martin and Michelle Davidson Argyle in support of the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami, and I’m happy to have my piece included in the final list. 

This anthology deserves all the support it can get.

The piece I wrote was born of one sentence:

A dismissal letter was not the sort of gift Kartar Singh expected to receive on his fiftieth birthday.

Of course, as readers of my other blog Daily (w)rite would know, Kartar Singh was what I had named my late lamented betta fish, who was a brave warrior indeed. He was named after my neighbor, a really quarrelsome young man. 

But the Kartar Singh that emerged in the story has very little in common with the Kartar Singh I remember in real life.

I just wrote the opening sentence ten times in ten different ways, and then let the second sentence follow from there. All I knew at that point was that the story would feature the devastating floods that hit Mumbai in 2005. I knew also about what would happen to Kartar Singh, but other than that, I pretty much dreamed my way through the story.

I wrote it, rewrote it, tore it apart, wrote it again, polished it, sent it out, and it got accepted. All in a week.

The point of all the rambling so far is this: Creativity, at least for me, is an uncertain thing. 

Sometimes a story tells itself in less than a week, at others, takes more than an year. Sometimes a story written with little apparent effort gets published with little effort.

At the end of the day, what works for me is struggling with writing day in and day out; writing on days I don’t feel like writing, am too exhausted to write, am too depressed to write, too busy to write.

Even the pieces that came relatively easier came because I practiced writing everyday, so that when the story wanted to tell itself, I had the means to take down the dictation.

 I don’t know if I have talent, but I hope I shall have enough perseverance to make up for any lack (to an extent). 

What about you? What is your writing process, and what works for you as a writer?

P.S: Here’s a post by writer-friend Karina, where she talks about the resonance of writing between writers and readers and how the writing process affects and is affected by it. If you’re looking for a post on the writing process, this is a very interesting, and imho, accurate take on the subject.

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her forthcoming literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and will be published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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6 Comments

  • Madeleine says:

    Congratulations. I like the first line written 10 different times idea :O)

  • Jayne says:

    Perseverance is key, it really is. The days where nothing seems to happen are really practice runs for when everything flows. And congrats on your story!

  • Karina says:

    Congrats on SendaI!!!

  • Suze says:

    I really like what you've written about writing. Particularly everything after 'other than that I pretty much dreamed my way through the story.'

    A very muted-energy post but with a lot of pull. I enjoyed reading it.

  • Donna Hole says:

    Sometimes I get a really good run of thoughts, others the page stares blankly at me.

    Time is my problem; having a block of time devoted only to writing. Some day, it will happen.

    I saw your name on the Sendai author list and wanted to come by and congratulate you. I think its so cool it all worked out in a week. That's some awesome writing skills.

    I hope all your publishing adventures work out as easily.

    …….dhole

  • Dafeenah says:

    Congrats on the publication and for a worthwhile cause! I don't really have a process. I am always writing in some form or other.

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